Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gyptian 'Hold You' Review (VP)

Born Windel Beneto Edwards on October 25th, 1983 in the King Weston District of St. Andrew to a Seventh Day Adventist mother and Rastafarian father, Gyptian received his musical calling at the age of 7, when he began singing in the church. Recognizing his talent, his parents soon introduced the resistant youngster to Mr. Wong, a producer from Portmore in St. Catherine. “I did not take it seriously” says Gyptian. “My family members have always been carrying me to Portmore to see him, but I usually disappear. One day, they dropped me off at his studio and left me and it all began there.”

Under the guidance of Mr. Wong and the legendary Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Gyptian honed his unique sound, winning the 2004 Star Search talent competition at Ken’s Wild Flower Lounge in Portmore, earning him a spot at Sting 2004, dubbed the greatest one night reggae show on earth.

Nicknamed from his habit of tying a shirt around his head and twisting his chin hair like an Egyptian pharaoh, the young, gifted, and conscious singer is very protective of keeping his sound 100% Gyptian. “You have to think about what people think and how they feel, the real things that people see. Any track at all you hear from Gyptian, right by my fingers out of my head.”

The previously unknown vocalist rose to international acclaim in 2005 when his debut single ‘Serious Times’ on the Kenneth Wilson (Frenz) produced ‘Spiritual War’ Riddim hit the top of the local and overseas reggae charts. Gyptian solidified his place in reggae music shortly thereafter when ‘Serious Times’ defeated Junior Gong’s massive international hit ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ for Jamaica’s Most Important Song of 2005. Gyptian had indeed arrived and he quickly established that he wasn’t going anywhere. He released his solid debut album ‘My Name Is Gyptian’ in late 2006 and has since consistently generated quality singles for various producers, many of which have charted in Jamaica and abroad.

Fast forward to 2010 and we find Gyptian rising to a completely new level with the crossover success of the single ‘Hold Yuh’, crossover only in the sense of Gyptian breaking down the doors of so-called ‘Popular Music’ and forcing his way in without compromising. ‘Hold Yuh’ is unadulterated reggae/dancehall! The jam of the summer, ‘Hold Yuh's’ unlikely rise to world domination begins two years ago, in the studio of producer Ricky Blaze (AKA 21-year-old New Yorker Ricardo Johnson). In town to promote the more typical Mr Lover-Lover shtick that made up the majority of his first two albums, Gyptian popped in to see Blaze, who had the ‘Hold Yuh’ (as it was titled in the US) riddim but couldn't quite figure out what to do with it. According to NYC's Village Voice, the song instantly grabbed Gyptian's attention: "Go back to that, what a ping-ping ting!" he's rumoured to have said of the song's distinctive plinky-plonky piano melody. Gyptian then laid down a vocal that was deemed so unremarkable and weird he didn't even bother finishing it; no one told his label it existed, and Gyptian didn't even ask for a copy when he left the studio. Blaze felt it had something but wasn't sure exactly what, so he asked a club-promo friend to email it out to his dancehall DJs contact list as a favour. The track's momentum has been unstoppable ever since. Starting out in the reggae clubs of the Caribbean and NYC, it became a word-of-month phenomenon that graduated on to the daytime playlist of New York's Hot 97 in February this year, after becoming one of the station's most requested tracks.

It peaked at #77 on the Billboard “Hot 100”, #31 on the Billboard “Hip Hop/R&B Songs”, and held the #1 spot on Billboard’s Reggae Charts for 9 consecutive weeks. With the tremendous success of the song it’s only fitting that an album would follow soon.

On July 20th VP released Gyptian’s latest full-length album appropriately entitled “Hold You”. With “Hold You” Gyptian introduces the world to the new era of Sexy Reggae Music as he dedicates this album “to the ladies across the globe.” NPR (National Public Radio) has even stated Gyptian is “swoon-worthy stuff.”

Oftentimes when a successful single spawns an album the result is nothing more than a bunch of filler songs quickly put together in order to further capitalize on the success of the hit single. Thankfully that is not the case with “Hold You”. Gyptian along with producer Jon FX, who gets credit for 9 of the 15 tracks, have managed to create a quality album.

Following a brief, thematic intro appropriately called To Be Held the album commences with the all-too-familiar Beautiful Lady. A seemingly odd inclusion considering it was released as a single by Vertex Productions way back in 2005 and it was featured on “My Name is Gyptian”. However, it makes sense here given what it’s about and honestly, it was a Boomshot when it was first released and it’s lost none of its luster. Call Gyptian and All InYou both have a throwback feel reminiscent of late 80s, early 90s reggae/dancehall with its prominent, syncopated drums and simple, driving bass lines. The latter uses a sample from the most overused and oftentimes annoying riddims of all time, the name of which will go without mention because of its explicit nature. The title track Hold Yuh has a similar feel but is still fresh and original. Who could have guessed that a few very basic notes on a keyboard and an equally basic drum pattern would serve as a masterful backdrop for Gyptian’s unique flow and delivery? Its catchy hook will cause even the most reserved to sing along. Nah Let Go is another stand-out track. Set to a bubbling, up-tempo riddim Gyptian again presents a lyrical flow that is 100% his own. Rendezvous introduces a classic roots reggae riddim to the album. The drum and bass is ultra-heavy. To his credit, Gyptian rises to the occasion and matches the quality of the music with a nice delivery, all the while staying on topic. So Much In Love is set to a modern roots riddim and Gyptian again impresses with his passionate delivery directed to his empress. Drive Me Crazy would be a much better tune if the ‘autotune’ was omitted, something completely unnecessary when you have a voice as smooth as Gyptian’s. Selah closes the album. Like the aforementioned Beautiful Lady it doesn’t seem to fit albeit for entirely different reasons. However, when you listen to the lyrics it becomes very clear why it’s here as Gyptian fervently gives thanks to everyone who helped him to get where he is today. He calls out the naysayers but more importantly graciously credits everyone who believed in him. Hence, it’s a deserving inclusion and a fitting conclusion to the record.

Gyptian fans will be more than satisfied with ‘Hold You’. Reggae fans in general will find many pleasing moments. Those new to Gyptian based on the success of the single will find a record that should help them to appreciate reggae/dancehall for what it is. Again, ‘Hold You’ is reggae/dancehall in its purest form. Gyptian wisely refused to compromise the integrity of the music. It's 100% Gyptian and 100% Reggae. Jamaicans and reggae fans throughout the world should be proud! Recommended

Track listing:

1. To Be Held
2. Beautiful Lady
3. Call Gyptian
4. All In You
5. Hold You
6. Nah Let Go
7. Haffi Easy
8. L.U=V.E
9. Rendezvous
10. So Much In Love
11. Na Na Na (A Love Song)
12. Drive Me Crazy
13. Where You Belong
14. Leave Us Alone
15. Selah

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bob Marley's Final Performance Turns Album

At the time, everyone in Pittsburgh's Stanley Theatre knew they were witnesses to history.

Bob Marley stood tall and proud onstage and beckoned them to Get Up, Stand Up, and they responded loudly with wo yo yo yo.

Later they discovered the history they witnessed was, in fact, Marley's last performance.

Live Forever encapsulates the pure energy of that fateful performance by Jamaica's most legendary son.

The original live recording, captured on tape by Marley's engineer Dennis Thompson, has been lovingly preserved and remastered for the 30th anniversary album release exclusively in the Caribbean.

Adding to the distinctiveness of the collection-worthy album is the special eco-friendly packaging.

Bob had ascended to the pinnacle of his career when he took to the stage in Pittsburgh; he had just completed a successful European Uprising tour and had played on sold-out bills in New York's Madison Square Garden. Simply put, he had arrived.

Everything about the concert was a reflection of Marley - the superior production, the masterful collection of musicians and the eclectic range of songs, emphasising the complexity of the man turned superstar.

Freedom fighter

As widely respected journalist Patricia Meschino alluded to in the Live Forever album liner notes, "He was an anointed African freedom fighter celebrating an independent Zimbabwe, a visionary reggae emissary, straight from "yard", on Jammin', and an exiled leader inciting the movement of Jah people on Exodus. A compelling ghetto griot, Bob warned of the impending consequences due to the continual marginalisation of the poor on Burning and Looting and Dem Belly Full; he was a purveyor of peace decrying War and insisting on No More Trouble and a progressive spiritualist glorifying the Natural Mystic. Effectively resolute in his desire to chase those Crazy Baldhead out of town, and in his excoriation of The Heathen, he was also a quintessentially cool roots-rocker, skanking to Carlton and Aston Barrett's deeply grooved drum and bass cadence on the instrumental break of Rastaman Vibration. An irresistible suitor who coyly asked Is This Love? Bob was also a vulnerable, absolutely riveting romantic in his passionately conveyed rendition of No Woman No Cry.

The album also includes live renditions of: Uprising, Coming In From The Cold, Work, Zion Train, Redemption Song and Could You Be Loved. The entire concert, from his opening song to the final applause, spans the special double CD album.

Live Forever is Bob's last live recording from his final concert. This definitive Marley album, special double CD in eco-friendly packaging, is a limited regional release which becomes available through Tuff Gong Distribution on September 23. - The Gleaner

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Protoje Brings a Fresh and Enduring Style

Every once and awhile an artist comes along and captures the imagination of the reggae world. Some take the world by storm, charting a big tune, then an album, and then....well, it seems they left almost as fast as they arrived. Sure, they may produce a few other decent tunes but that's about it. There's no staying power, no thew, as it were. Flash in the pan?...One hit wonder?... Call it what you will. The fact of the matter is this: Many are called but few are chosen. So- called artists come and go as quickly as the manna from heaven. Why? Are they focusing on the glitz and glamour? Probably. Do they like the attention? Surely, even if it is short- lived.                                                                                                                   
 Others though, as previously noted, capture the imagination. Why? Sure, they're unique, fresh, and witty but most importantly their heart is in what they do. Music is their life. Music is their passion. Music is their love. One sure indication of this is found in their lyrics. Typically, artists who last have a depth to their words. There's clarity in their thinking. Their tunes are not one-dimensional. It's more than just riding a riddim. It's more than putting together a crafty rhyme. They think before they write. Their footpath is well lit, able to see and relate what's right in front of them. At the same time, their roadway is illuminated, they're able to see things clearly that might be way off in the distance, a vision for the future.
One such artist is Protoje. Born in the 80s but wishing he was born in the 60s, Protoje ( given name Oje Olivierre) is the fresh face with the freshest lyrical delivery, still having a feel of vintage reggae music but being a suitable update for the present time.
Despite being the cousin of chart-topping producer, Donovan 'Don Corleon' Bennett, Protoje continues to resist the urge to lay his vocals on every other riddim in the dancehall mainstream. He is meticulously piecing together his debut album, The Seven Year Itch, while focusing the rest of his efforts on the perfection of his live performances. Thus far he has released three wicked singles, Arguments produced by DJ Karim as well as Dread and J.A. produced by Don Corleon.
From the moment you hear Protoje he'll capture your imagination. He has a flow like no other. A smooth delivery transitions into rapid-fire patois and then back to silky smooth. He's reggae, through and through, but his brand of reggae has a refreshingly modern twist. There is really no one artist that Protoje could be compared to. He doesn't sound like anyone. That fact alone should garner intrigue. Expect big things for Protoje! Most of all, expect Protoje to endure! His passion, dedication, and uniqueness will serve him well into the future.


Protoje - J.A by The Reggae Review

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

'Major' and 'Minor' Riddims Available in August on i-Tunes

When Don Corleon Records released the Major Riddim in June of this year, the common misconception was that it was called ‘Major & Minor.’ In fact, the Minor Riddim is a totally separate creation that is yet to be officially released. To fans’ delight, both productions will be available on i-Tunes later this month in the form of a double disc compilation.

“People assumed that they were the same riddim but they are definitely two different riddims,” said Donovan ‘Don Corleon’ Bennett. “One was produced with major chords and the other with minor chords. That is how they got their names.”
A “chord” is a familiar term for students of music. It describes when different notes are sounded at the same time, producing a certain harmonic quality; and “quality” is an appropriate descriptor for the tracks that appear on these sibling beats.
Major Riddim features Tarrus Riley’s ‘Wildfire (Protect Mi People),’ which was recorded during the first night of extradition-related violence in West Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens community. The riddim also boasts Jah Cure’s ‘Respect,’ Sean Paul’s ‘All Night Long’ and Wayne Marshall’s ‘Work Hard.’ Hawaiian singer, J Boog is also on the line-up with ‘Let’s Do It Again,’which climbed to #20 on the iTunes Singles Chart. ‘All I Want’ by Rock City pleasantly displays the obvious song writing ability of the duo from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, Ce’cile, Jah Vinci, Kris Kelli, Liquid, Lutan Fyah and Professor have all dropped vocals on this exciting riddim.
Meanwhile, Minor Riddim is geared towards exposing younger artistes, though not exclusively. It features ‘Roll’ by Protoje, whose debut album (’The Seven Year Itch’) is being executive produced by Corleon and is currently in the final stages of production. LP, the winner of Corleon’s recent online talent search, holds his own on ‘Name & Number.’ The riddim is also blessed by Vybz Kartel on his soothing number called ‘I Like That.’ Other tracks include Lutan Fyah, Tami Chynn, Fiji, Toi and a duet by Selena Serrano and Pressure.
The Major & Minor riddims trail two other one-drop beats from Don Corleon Records so far this year, namely Feminine and Feelings.

Friday, August 06, 2010

New Buju Banton Album to be Released September 28th

Deejay Buju Banton may be behind bars but that hasn't stopped his musical career. His record label, Gargamel Music, is looking to release his ninth studio album soon.

In jail on drug charges since last December, Banton has been in the headlines but relatively quiet on the musical scene. According to his official website, Gargamel Music is preparing for the release of his newest album titled Before The Dawn.

The album is set for release in North America on Tuesday, September 28. The website stated, "The 10 powerful tracks that comprise this very special project are some of the more prophetic songs written by Banton since his extraordinary entry into the music business over 20 years ago."

It added: "Recorded mostly at his Gargamel Music studio in Kingston, Jamaica, Before The Dawn literally pierces the soul with traditional roots, easy rock and especially heartfelt reggae. The album's unofficial anthem Innocent, strikes a highly personal chord that will resonate deeply with longtime Buju Banton fans."

The website also added that Banton will be appearing in court for the start of his trial on Monday, September 13, at the Sam M Gibbons US District Courthouse in Tampa, Florida. This is the fourth time the trial has been rescheduled.